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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs defense dramatic stand saved night in Charlotte

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

So much has been made of first-year Bucs coach Bruce Arians’ offensive mindset, starting quarterback Jameis Winston’s arm talent and the weapons around them carrying the team, but Thursday night it was the Buccaneers defense that showed up big, as in the end, with the game on the line in the final two minutes, they save the day with a fourth-down heroic play.

Former first-round pick , DB Vernon Hargreaves, came up with a key one-on-one tackle on Carolina star RB Christian McCaffrey (above) on fourth down at the Tampa Bay one-yard line to keep the Panthers from getting a first down.  And, it gave the Bucs the ball back to run out the clock and secure a much needed 20 – 14 win.

Hargreaves’ individual effort epitomized the Buccaneers solid defensive play all night in Charlotte, as they did not allow Carolina to score a touchdown and held them to only three points on offense the entire second half. .

As for the aforementioned Winston and his support on the other side of the ball, they supplied enough, including Peyton Barber running tough for 82 yards on 23 carries and a crucial third-quarter 16 yard touchdown run the gave Tampa Bay the lead for good at 17 – 12.

Winston finished 16-25 for 208 yards, including a first-half touchdown pass to third year receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin is quickly becoming Winston’s new favorite target, as he hauled in eight catches for 121 yards and the score.

Meanwhile, Panthers Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton had an off game, as well. Even though he threw for 300 yards, he still had 26 incompletions on 50 attempts and Carolina repeatedly had one drive after another fizzle out in Bucs territory.

Newton was also battered by Tampa Bay’s rush, as new DE Shaq Barrett had three sacks, and the Bucs front seven repeatedly hit and knocked him down. Another key moment came near midfield in the third, when Newton was stripped of the ball for a lost fumble. And, another new Buc, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, fell on it.

And, to top it all off, McCaffery could mount very little offense Thursday night, either. A week after amassing over 200 yards from scrimmage against the Rams, he was held to 16 carries for only 37 yards and just two catches for just more 16 yards.

As for the key stop of McCaffery to preserve victory, Hargreaves said after the game late Thursday,

“It looked like it was going to be the Philly special from the Super Bowl. A reverse pass. When Cam walked up to the line of scrimmage, that’s what I thought it was going to be. As the play developed, McCaffrey faked it and he came right to me. I just stayed at home and he came right to me. I just had to make the play.”

A play that has Tampa Bay sitting 1-1 after a tough divisional win.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Several Bucs and Jaguars make PFWA All Rookie Team

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Football Writers Association unveiled their 2019 All-Rookie team Tuesday, and there were four state NFL players on the list.

The PFWA selected 22 total players for offense and defense, plus skill position players for special teams.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two of their defenders made the 11-person defensive list. First round pick outside linebacker, Devin White, who was named the Rookie of the month by the NFL for both November and December is there. White came on strong in the second half of the season, including scoring two defensive touchdowns on fumble returns down the stretch.

Also on the list was Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting, who’s play improved as the season went on. Murphy-Bunting also recorded a game-clinching interception return for a touchdown against Detroit in December.

For the Jaguars, their first-round pick Josh Allen is also part of the all-defensive unit. Allen recorded 10.5 sacks and had another 11 tackles for loss in his inaugural season in Jacksonville. The PFWAA also placed Jaguars right tackle Jawaan Taylor on their all rookie offensive team. Taylor was solid as a starter on the right side of the Jags line.

Although it’s not surprising is that the writers selected former number one overall pick Kyler Murray of Arizona, as their top rookie quarterback, there was an argument to be made for Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew at that position.

Minshew won six games as a starter, including leading the Jaguars to three different last-minute victories, which was one more than what Murray had this season despite him having better stats and more starts.

PFWA did not place a Dolphin on any of their all-rookie teams. Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, whom they took in the first round, could have received some consideration as he played solidly this season.

The writers selected defensive end  Nick Bosa of the 49ers, not only at their Defensive player of the year, but their overall Rookie of the Year for 2019. They did choose Oakland running back Josh Jacobs, as their offensive Rookie of the Year.

The NFL will announce its own all-rookie teams and Rookies of the year prior to the playing of Super Bowl 54 in Miami next month.

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Booger McFarland out of Monday Night Football booth?

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Big changes are apparently coming to ESPN Monday Night Football coverage, and it looks as though after two seasons former Buccaneers and Colts player turned broadcaster, Anthony “Booger” McFarland, will be out of the Monday night booth.

First there was a report on Tuesday from New York Post sports media writer,  Andrew Marchand, that ESPN was intending to make serious changes, first with the lead producer of Monday Night Football, Jay Rothman.

Rothman, who still has a deal with the network, will apparently be re-assigned and perhaps, to college football.

Marchand theorized that Rohman’s departure on Monday Nights signals significant change, including putting new broadcasters in the booth, as well.

Marchand also wrote that ESPN, which has tried for the last couple of years to hire Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning to be in the booth may have success this time. That’s because, Manning’s younger brother Eli, who is a free agent, may very well retire at 38 years of age after this past season from the NFL. Peyton Manning hosted a series of lighthearted half hour feature shows this past season on the ESPN+ app.

Next, Marchand wrote about CBS lead analyst and former Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, who is also slated to be a broadcasting free agent. Marchand said that Romo could be a possibility to enter the Monday Night booth, however, he’s wanting a significant raise from his reported $3 million salary.

And, it seems that CBS, which will have Romo with Jim Nantz on it’s Sunday coverage of the Kansas City- Houston Texans playoff game, will try to keep that tandem together, even if it means paying big for Romo.

A source has told F.F.I. that McFarland has mentioned that he may be moved off of the Monday Night Football broadcast, but that he could be kept with partner Joe Tessitore on a college football package. Marchand also wrote this in his New York Post Tuesday item.

Tessitore previously broadcasted college football for ESPN before landing the Monday Night play-by-play gig two years ago. That’s when the network put Sean McDonough, who had done the play-by-play the previous two years on Mondays himself, back on college football.

So, this would obviously be following a similar pattern.

McFarland, who still lives in Tampa, was previously a studio analyst for the launch of the SEC Network in 2014 and later on Saturday ABC football coverage in 2015 and 16, as well.

2019 was McFarland’s first year full time in the Monday night booth. The previous season he was the “field analyst” riding on a specialized elevated golf cart (shown above) behind one of the team benches.

That was while, Tessitore was joined by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in the booth for game analysis. It definitely provided for some awkward moments with Tessitore and Witten not having McFarland with them and the three couldn’t see each other to find out whom should be talking next.

Eventually, at the end of last year, ESPN put McFarland in the booth with Tessitore and Witten, as a try out. Witten then decided to return to play in the NFL this past season with the Cowboys, and ESPN left Tessitore and McFarland together, as its broadcasters for the 50th season of Monday Night Football.

McFarland spent eight seasons in the NFL, and was part of two Superbowl winning teams with the Buccaneers in 2002 and the Colts in 2006. He’s a former #1 draft pick of the Bucs in 1999 out of LSU, and was also, one of several analysts on the ESPN set for their coverage of the 2019 NFL Draft.

McFarland has drawn recent criticism for on air blunders, where he got confused doing a Vikings game late in the year that they had lost the “Minneapolis Miracle” game. However, Minnesota won that playoff game two years ago dramatically in the final seconds vs. the Saints on a Stefon Diggs TD catch and run.

Then, on the larger stage Saturday, and as Marchand referenced in the Post Tuesday, McFarland got confused at the end of the Bills vs. Texans playoff game frantic finish with the Bills driving.

McFarland suggested that the Bills run the ball on the next play  to set up a tying field goal (which was 3rd down) and then, hurry to spike the ball-stop the clock. And, that would have obviously been on fourth down ending their possession and chance to tie. The Bills eventually got the clock stopped and kicked the tying field goal for OT.

It’s unclear whether the network would seek another significant name for the Monday booth, if neither Peyton Manning nor Romo are available?

But, if they’re moving both Tessitore and McFarland to college football together for this fall, they may end up swapping spots with longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor and play-by-play man Steve Levy, and his partner and former NFL quarterback, Brian Griese.

Levy and Griese worked the second half of the Monday Night Football opening week doubleheader this past year, as the Raiders played the Broncos. Levy and Griese have also been the preseason broadcasters for Bronco games the last couple of years with Griese’s natural tie of having quarterbacked in Denver.

It is also believed that ESPN wants to promote former front office executive Louis Riddick, whom they have used as a studio analyst over the last few seasons. Riddick currently serves in that role pregame and post game at the stadiums for Monday Night Football.

ESPN used Riddick in the booth with Levy and Griese for the regular-season game that they did back in September.

ESPN generally announces their broadcast teams for the fall in late April or early May.

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